Our immune system consists of a wonderful set of defense mechanisms that allow our body to protect itself against infection and disease. Thus, billions of cells are responsible for fighting elements harmful to the proper functioning of our body.
Symptoms of a weakened immune system
Sometimes, it happens that this immunity is deficient , putting our health to the test. How do you know if your immune system is weakened ? Different symptoms can appear in the event of a drop in immune defenses .
Among them :
- Manifestation of numerous infections (colds, flu, etc.) difficult to combat. Indeed, if your immune system is weakened , it will have difficulty reacting to a pathogen (bacteria, viruses, etc.). Your antibodies may be fewer and less reactive.
- A wound heals more slowly. In the same way, during an immune deficiency , the immune cells involved in the healing process (blood coagulation, mobilization of lymphocytes and other immune cells, etc.) will be weakened. Healing then takes longer and the risk of infection is greater.
- General asthenia. You may experience unexplained fatigue even after long hours of sleep. The slightest physical or mental effort can be more restrictive than usual.
- Manifestation of digestive disorders (bloating, diarrhea, constipation, etc.). Our immunity actually goes through our intestinal microbiota. A disruption of the immune system can therefore manifest itself at the digestive level.
- Appearance of new allergies. In fact, allergies are regulated by the immune system which tries to fight external aggressions. If you have never had an allergy before, it is possible that a weakened immune system increases your susceptibility to allergies.
What weakens the immune system?
Lack of sleep is responsible for the reduction in the production of immune cells , in particular B lymphocytes. These are white blood cells synthesized in the bone marrow, circulating in the blood and lymph, which participate in the body's natural defenses . A minimum of 6 hours of sleep per night is recommended.
Stress is also a harmful factor for the immune system . Inserm researchers have shown that stress hormones, including cortisol, prevent immune cells from producing a satisfactory inflammatory response , necessary for the elimination of viruses.
Poor food hygiene can also be responsible for low immunity . Indeed, an unbalanced diet risks harming the body's metabolic functions, including the functions involved in the immune response . This is the case of overconsumption of sugar which will force your body to produce a large quantity of insulin. Your pancreas, an organ involved in the management and production of hormones, will be weakened.
Overweight and obesity weaken immunity . Indeed, adipose tissue is responsible for the secretion of cytokines, some of them are too inflammatory. Too large reserves of adipose tissue are therefore responsible for immune dysfunction .
Age, an inevitable factor, is also involved in the decrease in immunity .
More precisely, it is the T lymphocytes which are less efficient and which react less well to pathogenic attacks. Certain medications can weaken the immune system .
On the one hand, by disrupting the intestinal microbiota (certain bacterial strains are sensitive to antibiotics, by seeking to fight bad bacteria, we also risk fighting those that are beneficial to us). On the other hand, by voluntarily affecting immunity in the case of treatment against cancer (this is the case with certain chemotherapies or immunosuppressive drugs).
There are genetic diseases that cause immune dysfunction .
Autoimmune diseases correspond to an overproduction of the immune response . In this case, antibodies or immune cells will recognize the body's cells as the pathogen. Our immune system will therefore perpetually fight our own cells. This is the case for Crohn's disease (chronic intestinal inflammation), type one diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and even Vitiligo.
In other diseases, we can, on the contrary, speak of immunodeficiency. This is the case with the AIDS virus (HIV).
How to strengthen the immune system?
To strengthen your immunity , you must first ensure that you correct the causes mentioned above as much as possible.
Make sure you provide your body with a balanced and varied diet. A good diet will be a source of vitamins and minerals beneficial to the functioning of your metabolism. It may be interesting to carry out a blood test to prevent deficiencies. Zinc, iron, selenium, vitamin C… many vitamins and minerals are essential for the proper functioning of immunity .
Ask your doctor for advice before starting vitamin and mineral supplements. If supplementation is not appropriate, there may be risks of toxicity. Sleep should not be neglected. It constitutes an important part of your healthy lifestyle.
Restorative sleep plays a role in the production of immunity cells .
In winter, everyday ailments are more frequent. A cold does not necessarily require taking antibiotics. Only use this treatment if necessary so as not to unnecessarily weaken your intestinal microbiota.
There are natural methods to strengthen your immunity . This is the case for certain plants used in herbal medicine. Around ten of these plants are mentioned in the article “ Which plant to strengthen the immune system? ”. You will also find suggestions for homemade herbal teas and a recipe idea.
Practicing physical and sporting activity is beneficial for strengthening your immune system . Each person has a suitable activity, running, cycling, swimming, combat sports, horse riding, team sports... No need to run a marathon, start by establishing 30 minutes of daily walking. In addition, sports practice improves cardiovascular capacity. It also allows the production of well-being hormones, including endorphins.